As always when visiting BaselWorld, you start off the day more than a tad overwhelmed: there is soooo much to see, so little time (even spending five days here is barely scratching the surface if you were able to sit down and talk with everyone). After you get your ticket or pass, you walk through the main gates and enter another world, a world with subdued lights, exquisite women (and I guess men as well, but I don't pay attention to them), and things that glitter in the distance. The walls are dark, earth tones, the ceiling is a dark gray to not distract, and the main hall is a luxury without end, luxury without distractions. While the noise level is high - at times appallingly so - it still seems like noises, conversations, footsteps are all swallowed up, hushed and muted.
I took the first couple of hours here to take a quick look-around and see that pretty much everyone is back, at the usual places. Nothing new there. I haven't grabbed a bunch of prospects, but rather grabbed my camera (Olympus E30) and a couple of lenses (all of the following were taken with either the 12-60 Zuiko, 50 f2 Zuiko or a vintage Vivitar Series 1 200 f3, no flash) and went to see what y'all might have seen if you were here. This is just scratching the surface of BaselWorld: there will be a lot more to come (at least I hope so).
So, what is new?
First, a watch that seems to attract massive criticism: the Rolex SkyDweller.
While apparently most folks don't particularly like this, I think it's an impressive looking watch. There is a significant depth to the dial that perhaps doesn't come across well in the official pictures. The finish is, of course, superb.
What I think people don't like is the vertical asmmetry of the watch, which is at first a tad jarring. While obviously not a subseconds dial, it represents, at least for me, a connection back to the classic three-hand sub-second watches of old, using the vertical asymmetry as a design element to capture this nicely, yet remaining 100% functional as the date option. The red triangle below the Rolex name balances this nicely: while on the one hand I think the watch would work better with the date indicator at the six, between "Swiss" and "Made" instead of the cut-out 6, moving this down here would tend to unbalance the face, hence: nice job. Seriously!
Now, this is one seriously nice watch:
Given its provenance and a fairly unusual move (for Rolex) to bringing what really looks like a right and proper tool watch out on the market, this is not badly priced (I overhead a price south of $4k, but just barely under that price) which would bring some serious competition south of Rolex and improve the market positioning of Tudor to keep those pesky kids off the lawn (so to speak).
The quality and multiple layers of the dial create a good depth, in some ways reminding me of the classic Black Monster dial from Seiko (great, now I'll be stoned as a heretic, comparing a Tudor to a Seiko...), with a lovely brushed case that almost seems to shrug off light. It's not DLC or anything like that, but appears much darker and tool-like than I'd expect from what a stainless case. I think the effect is increased by the gun-grey look of the crown.
Now, I know that this also sounds heretical, but the world of watches does not start and end with Rolex. In the main hall you also have watches from Movado, this time with an astronomical theme:
That's one with a blue dial and constellations, as well as dates and moon phases, which are classical elements implemented as only Movado seems to know how to do, very modern. They didn't stop there, though:
Now, here is a trilogy, using different views of the world, but with a common theme: the moon phases are executed the same way, but the face of the dial views either Europe, North America or Asia as if you were in space:
The case is also available in black:
Moving on to Concorde, they have an intriguing white chronograph:
The band attachments are unusual and distinctive, with the band attaching directly to the lugs without apparently any spring bars at all. The design is reminiscent of a classic chronograph, with lozenge pushers for the chrono functions.
I don't think I need to say much about this watch at all:
Oh my goodness. If it didn't have that price tag...
First this picture of something from Chopard:
Okay, that's a tad too abstract to get the idea of what this watch looks like across, so here's what that is in focus:
Now, this is not a small watch: that is one serious set of diamonds, and I guess the proper description in indeed "encrusted".
Well, given this, maybe not:
Enough diamonds on a watch?
Maybe diamonds are a girl's best friend:
Now, Chopard does have something for the boys after all:
And for all of y'all who are starting to despair: here is one serious movement:
It's a 20 jewel movement that is adjusted to five positions, isochronism and heat and cold. Hmmmm: where have I heard that kind of description before?
Yep, it is basically a new pocket watch movement that is being put into this beauty of an homage to the original wrist watches, modified pocket watches that were adapted to be worn on the wrist:
Chopard doesn't stop there: this is one seriously interesting chronograph, a "Qualite Fleurier", something out of the ordinary with what I think is a tourbillion in there.
Chopard also makes more classic watches. You can't get much more straight-forward and purist than this:
Chopard also has some more unusual movements, such as this one:
Here is a perpetual calendar watch:
This is a classic serious complication: seconds, minutes, hours, then calendar, day of the week, a day/night indicator, months and then 1-2-3-L for the years, with L standing for leap year.
And of course you need - come on, admit it, you really do - a flyback chronograph:
Glasshütte is also at Basel, integrated into the Blancpain booth. They make some seriously lovely watches:
Then again, they should, since they've been doing it for a while:
It's hard to capture, exactly, the shading of this dial. If anything, this is a tad overexposed, but it captures the grain effect of the dial nicely:
The color of the dial is more a charcoal gray than appears here, but here's the white and dark together:
Oh my goodness gracious:
They do make some awfully nice looking watches!
And have added moonphases to this one:
This is a front and back shot, with the front unfortunately not quite in focus:
but that is one lovely movement!
Like I said, Glashütte is inside the Blancpain area, and Blancpain, as we know, has brought one a rather serious diver's watch:
I mean, this is one seriously chunky watch, not for small wrists:
the watch, which is relatively huge, really commands presence and cannot be overseen:
Just look at that bezel!
I'm not going to even imagine how much gold is in this case from Blancpain:
Blancpain has watchmakers on site:
One of the advantages of working with WUS is that I have press credentials here, including photography rights. When I started taking these next set of pictures, security showed up immediately and I was clearly told "no pictures, no pictures!!!". But I showed them my press pass with the magic "P" and the camera icon, and security then said "oh, okay then". Awesome: otherwise there'd not be any of these photos.
Now, engine-turned dials are not necessarily to everyone's taste, but I don't think you can say that this isn't one gorgeously done watch dial, one worthy of a great company:
Now, there is something unusual on this chronometer:
See those hands? Classic design, well in keeping with Breguet's tradition, but rather than having the circles on the hour and minute hand blank, they are, instead, lumed. Nice integration of lume in a very classic design that would otherwise preclue lume usage.
Same thing here:
Again the lume on the hands, but this time with a classic three-hand design with a gorgeous wavy machine-turned dial:
That's so nice I gotta show it twice:
Now this is a serious movement:
This is a tourbillon movement with another lovely machine-turned dial:
What's not to like (okay, let's ignore the price: suffice to say that you do get what you pay for...)?
Breguet doesn't ignore the ladies, though:
This simply does not do justice to what I think may be the single loveliest watch in BaselWorld (okay, I'm a vintages guy, but you can't argue with the kind of simple design elegance that you see here:
Goodness: again perfection, this time with the classic complications of day, date, month and moon phases:
Again, elegant simplicity:
Don't like machine turning? Meh. Here's a world-timer to end all world-timers, and how did they get that baby blue???
Sigh. Maybe one day I will win the lottery. Right.
Heading back to Rolex, this is what caught my eye, and what a wonderful new implementation of last year's classic move by Tudor:
Doesn't come in just one color, you know:
And it doesn't come in just two: in any case (hah! pun intended), this is a beautifully done watch:
I'm surprised that we don't see more watches with this color combination, which reminds me of modern industry design:
Suprising as well is that I really haven't seen that color combination in any other NATO straps, and that is a watch/strap combo that works perfectly.
So, this remains one of my favorite watches. My grandfather owned the original - not a Rolex, but a Gruen, but the movement came from Aiglier, who was later acquired by Rolex. It's not new, but it is simply stunning in red gold:
This appears to be a new dial (at least that's what it said in the window):
While I'm not such a big fan of blue dials - I have one and don't like it - this one looks better. Besides, given the price of copper, it should almost be considered a precious metal:
But what would a visit to Rolex be without bling?
Now, on that remark, Zenith was next on the list:
Doublematic? That name makes absolute sense to me. The two crowns on the left are for the two internal bezels: one for world-time, one for GMT functions; in addition, you have a 30 minute totalizer for the chrono function, big date and power reserve. The only downside of this watch is that it was poorly lit and hard to photograph.
Walking around Zenith, you can see the company's history. As a vintages guy, I couldn't pass up taking a few pictures of Zenith history:
This beauty is an issued watch for the Italian Air Force...
Hint to Zenith: bring that one back out at a moderate price and you will clean up. Seriously!!!!!
Oh. My. Goodness...
This is one of Zenith's smallest chronos: if I remember right, it's a 27mm dial!
This is not an optical illusion: those really are sunken markers, rather than raised markers!
Whew. I think I spent almost as much time writing this up (and uploading the images!) as I spent taking the pictures. I'm going to head back out now and get some video before heading out for the evening. Hope y'all enjoy this and I'll be posting some more impressions and pictures/video later.